SOCIETY by Terri M. KelleherNews Weekly
Same-sex marriage nowhere near 'inevitable'
, April 25, 2015
Only in the minds of the Australian Marriage Equality lobby and its media promoters and friends is same-sex marriage inevitable. Australia has spoken and has said a loud “no” to redefining marriage.
In federal Parliament in September 2012 the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012 was soundly defeated in the Legislative Assembly by 98 votes to 42. Same-sex marriage attempts in Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia and NSW did not succeed. The only “yes” vote to redefine marriage anywhere in Australia was in the ACT in September 2013 when nine members of the 17-member unicameral legislature voted for the Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act. It was subsequently over turned by the High Court in December 2013.
An Ambrose Centre for Religious Liberty survey in November 2011 found fewer than a third of Australians feel strongly about the issue of same-sex marriage, with fewer than one in seven Australians strongly in favour of changing the Marriage Act. It found 32 per cent felt strongly about it, while 68 per cent did not feel strongly about it. And of the 32 per cent who felt strongly about it, 18 per cent were strongly against changing the Marriage Act, while only 14 per cent were strongly in favour.
Even among GetUp members the scorecard of issues most important to them, compiled for the 2013 federal election, rated same-sex marriage lower than indigenous issues, gambling, animal welfare, fair and independent media, climate change, renewable energy, opposing coal seam gas mining, protecting the Great Barrier Reef, tax equity, social welfare, education and asylum-seekers.
In spite of the media flurry each time there seems to be movement on Senator David Leyonhjelm’s Freedom to Marry Bill 2013, and the witting or unwitting cooperation of some Liberal backbenchers in challenging Tony Abbott’s leadership in an attempt to force a conscience vote on marriage, the marriage-equality lobby has not progressed any closer to their goal of legislation to redefine marriage. Its latest media campaign was to protest against the Australian Marriage Forum (AMF) TV advertisements funded by the private donations of ordinary Australians that said that what was at stake in redefining marriage was children’s right to a mother and a father. The marriage-equality lobby apparently found that to be an appallingly bigoted view to which the Australian public should not be exposed.
When the pressure was on to challenge Tony Abbott’s leadership to force a conscience vote in the Liberal Party, those Australians who cared strongly enough about preserving marriage and who wanted the Liberal Party to maintain its policy on marriage to protect the rights of children to a mother and a
father, emailed their elected representatives in such numbers that the message got through.
Those who strongly support opposite-sex marriage are a larger constituency than those who support same-sex marriage, bearing out the Ambrose Centre finding. There was not even any mention in the party room of abandoning the party position on marriage. The Australian Family Association/NCC ran a strong email campaign on the issue and many thousands of emails went through the AFA website.
The fact is that redefining marriage is a low priority for most Australian voters. The issue yet again has sunk out of sight, with Senator Leyonhjelm saying he will not be bringing his bill on for debate at this time.
The definition of marriage is an important cultural issue. So let the debate go on in the community where it belongs. Marriage is the best way to preserve the fundamental birth-right of children to know and be raised by their biological mother and father. The first responsibility of a government is to protect children; and that includes protecting their birth-right. Appreciation of this idea is gaining traction with the Australian public; which probably explains the censorious protest against the AMF TV advertisements. The more people understand this is what the debate is about the less likely there will be support for redefining marriage.
In Australia 73.6 per cent of children are being raised by their natural biological parents. About 92 per cent of two-parent families with children are married, intact couples. A Galaxy poll, conducted for the AFA, asked 1,053 Australians: “Ideally, wherever possible, should children be raised by their biological mother and their biological father?” Eighty-six per cent of respondents said “yes”, including 81 per cent of 18–24-year-olds.
We now have children of gay couples arguing against gay marriage, saying that children need a mum and a dad. High-profile gay Italian fashion designers Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce, of Dolce&Gabbana designs, have publicly criticised same-sex marriage and “designer babies”.
Heather Barwick, who was raised by two lesbians, and five other children raised by gay couples, have come out publicly against gay marriage and defended Dolce and Gabbana’s views on traditional families.
A recent Pew Polling survey found that 7 per cent of GLBT people in the U.S. are opposed to same-sex marriage and 39 per cent believe the issue is taking too much focus from issues important to the community.
At present there are other pressing issues for Parliament to deal with. The budget is imminent. And major policy issues are tax reform and support for Australia’s families, and infrastructure and the jobs and income this will create. This is of vital importance to the Coalition, which needs to gain the confidence of the electorate and pick up its ratings in the polls. Another debate on redefining marriage will divide Parliament, take the focus off the budget and risk becoming a major distraction on an issue that is a low priority for the electorate.
Terri M. Kelleher is Victorian state president of the Australian Family Association (AFA).
David de Vaus, Diversity and Change in Australian Families: Statistical Profiles, Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2004, p.34.